DECEMBER RIOTS has been based on real incidents?

In the evening of December 8, 2008, we were trapped along with a few daredevil filmgoers, the theater owners and the projectionist in a subterranean movie theatre in Athens, Greece. The movie theater played the Palm D' Or at Cannes winner "THE CLASS" by Laurent Cantent.

The confrontations outside between the riot police and people protesting the murder of the innocent 15 year-old student Alexandros Gregoropoulos were the toughest so far. Alexandros had been murdered around 8:57 pm, Saturday night, on December 6 and crowds of students, workers, unemployed, anarchists were outraged. People in over 22 countries and 70 cities were outraged too and took over streets…Gregoropoulos was a young boy, a kid. He didn't provoke anybody, he didn't attack anybody. He carried no weapons, or guns. He was sitting down at a café, celebrating the nameday of his best friend. He was murdered in cold blood…

I wrote the first draft of the script on January 2008 but it took some time finding the money to bring it on screen…So the incidents where the movie is based upon are real, but the characters (trapped in the movie theater) are entirely fictional. It's a tableaux, where Europeans and Americans (characters) are trapped together in a dead-end situation. Afraid to change, to walk out, to enter reality. If you can understand the metaphor that's OK. Otherwise you see a movie with a beginning, a middle and an end.

How many days it took filming and completing production?

After four weeks of rehearsals with the actors, DR was filmed in nine days but it took over three months in post-production to sort-out the materials from different sources, and build up an elaborate "wall" of sound… So we have two scripts one visual script unfolding on screen, interlocked with a sound script. When the characters are trapped in the arthouse theater the confrontations are reaching a crescendo outside…You can hear the outside world with Molotov bombs explosions, glass shattered, stores burning, tear gas grenades fired, body fighting, objects being crushed and destroyed, screams, curses, etc.

How you are handling such a hot subject and what is the structure of the script?

This is a film about violence. Not only about police brutality and violence, but the violence within us, in our everyday relationships. It is structured around the death of Alexandros and obviously pays tribute to his memory… It is like a three days chronicle but not in numerical, geometrical mode. Although every single moment the viewer understands what is going on and who does what to whom, the different pieces of the puzzle are assembled at the very end… And so are the cold facts about what exactly happened. I think the delicate balance the film needed was achieved, and content and subject-wise is handled with great responsibility.

Do you have a conspiracy theory?

See the film.

Are people forgetting too soon?

I would like people not to forget what happened. People have a very short memory…And "…people who forget their past are condemned to repeat it". I remember a photo from a 2008 protest in Boston, MA. There's a sign that reads: "Greece burns for all of us!" That couldn't been further from the truth.

You changed the finale of the film in post-production?

No. The finale remains as it was written on the script. There's material added, in another chapter called "Finally The Greeks woke up" about the massive protests against the austerity measures and the bombardment with tear gas from riot police on June 29, 2011 of a self-made hospital at the Syntagma subway station, in the very heart of Athens downtown. It was a situation very similar to the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau where the Nazis murdered millions of Jews...

Inside the hospital were doctors, and rescuers helping the injured, and people who had breathing problems from the tear gas (that day over three thousand tear-gas grenades were fired outside the parliament building against crowds protesting the austerity measures). If you didn't have a tear gas mask, and sprayed over your exposed skin with Maalox, you would fall in a coma immediately… …It was very much alike a war zone situation, much like being in Kabul, or Iraq. But in a war zone, they'll always remember the Geneva convention. It was a miracle-that we had hundreds of injuries- but nobody died that day….

What is next for you?

I'll do another thriller DEATH TRAIN (aka CARNAGE OF THE ZOMBIES) in a while, one of my very favorite scripts, and, hopefully, in mid-2012 we'll start filming LAND OF THE ANGELS, about the riots at Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

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